SBAR – Communication Tool for Handoff in Health Care

Posted by Kai Knudsen, Senior Physician in Anesthesia & Intensive Care. Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
Updated 2019-06-13

SBAR is an internationally established structured communication tool for reporting situations in healthcare. It is a simple and effective way of communicating in a structured way, especially in situations with severely ill patients or in critical moments when immediate attention is needed. The most influential organizations for medical quality and patient safety work actively to use SBAR in healthcare. SBAR can also be used during, for example, treatment of cardiac arrest, treatment of trauma, treatment of patient with failing vital functions or when reporting an anesthesia during ongoing surgical operation.

Bildresultat för Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation (SBAR)

The report follows a template according to the following SBAR format:

  • S = Situation
  • B = Background
  • A = Assessment
  • R = Recommendation

Information transfer becomes safer if you follow SBAR when you

  • Must report a patient
  • Call the physician on call
  • Move a patient to another care unit
  • Or whenever you think it is necessary

Always start your report by presenting yourself and saying: “I report according to SBAR”.


State your own name and unit. State the patient’s name and ID (social security number). Present the situation/problem that has caused the contact. Concern for security is always a reason for contact and should be expressed clearly. What is the reason for contact? What problem do you worry about?


Brief and relevant medical history. Reasonable background information relevant to the situation and explaining the circumstances that led to the situation. Gives the listener / reader the opportunity to put the problem in context. Leave a brief health history and overall picture of the situation. Warning / restriction of any treatment. Previous or current illnesses of importance. State where in the operation or procedure we are in.

Assessment (Current condition)

Summary of the key facts of the current situation along with an attempt to reasonably interpret the information. I think the problem is … everything. I do not know what the problem is, but …

You may specify

  • A: airway
  • B: breathing, saturation
  • C: Stable, unstable, BP, pulse, bleeding.
  • D: Consciousness, anesthesia or sedation depth, stunning, pain.
  • E: infarction, fluid balance, cadence, urine production, TOF, temp, skin, positioning, drainage.

Other: patient-specific data, test responses, ongoing drugs.


Recommendation to the listener about what actions he/she should take, possibly a whole plan. A suggestion from the sender of what could correct the problem. Give a suggestion – on what you think should be done, or – on what you want for support or action, or – for the continued care. Planning ahead, prescriptions, sample examinations, rev. Finish by seeking confirmation by asking: Do you have any further questions? Do we agree?